CRE Infection Reported at USC Hospital

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A spokesperson from USC’s Keck School of Medicine has confirmed that a patient treated at its Verdugo Hills hospital was diagnosed with the superbug Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, the same strain of bacteria linked to the deaths of 2 patients at a UCLA hospital.

What’s the Problem?

While the identity of the patient who developed the CRE infection has not been released, hospital officials report the person has been quarantined and is being treated with antibiotics. Paul Craig, Interim Chief Executive at Keck Medicine of USC, called the CRE superbug a “treatable organism,” and said the infection was not spread through the use of a contaminated endoscope.

“No hospital is infection free. All superbugs live in health-care environments, and, in our case, this infection was not contracted through the use of a device, which has been the case at other facilities,” Craig wrote in a letter written to hospital staff.

Update: Treatment Underway for Superbug Patient at USC

March 25 – Treatment is underway for the patient diagnosed with the CRE superbug at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, according to the La Cañada Valley Sun.

Meanwhile, communicable disease experts say a single CRE infection isn’t cause for alarm in Los Angeles where, at any given time, hundreds of cases are being reported. Laurene Mascola, chief of the Acute Communicable Disease Control (ACD) unit of the LA County Department of Public Health, says the recent incident is not uncommon in places where patients are being admitted from other care facilities.

“One case at Verdugo Hills is not something we’d investigate or look into,” Mascola said. “We only look at outbreak settings, where there’s more than we expected. But one case is not that unusual.”

Endoscopes and Superbug Infections

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is still searching for answers as to how a re-designed endoscope made it to the market without federal approval, and what role it may have played in the recent CRE superbug outbreaks. At least 2 deaths and nearly 180 potential exposures at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center have been linked to the Olympus TJF-Q180V duodenoscope. Medical experts say the scopes can be difficult to disinfect with standard cleaning techniques because of their design, so bacteria survive and are transmitted from patient to patient.

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